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Regional Headlines for Thursday, November 8, 2012



Governor: No State-Federal Health Care Partnership

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he won't support an application from Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger to establish a state-federal health insurance marketplace. The decision announced Thursday illustrates the divide over the federal health care law between the conservative Republican Brownback and moderate Republican Praeger. States have until November 16 to inform the federal government if they plan to create their own health insurance exchanges, partner with the federal government or leave the exchange to the federal agencies to run. Praeger, who is an elected commissioner, had been working on a grant application to seek a state-federal partnership to manage the exchange in Kansas. Brownback had to sign a letter of support before the application could be filed with federal officials.


UPDATE: County Officials Told Not to Identify Voters for Mah Inquiry  

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office is telling Shawnee County voting officials that they shouldn't release names of voters casting provisional ballots. The advice from Kobach's office Thursday came as Democratic Representative Ann Mah of Topeka is seeking a list of such voters so that she can contact them before their ballots are reviewed. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo from Kobach's office from a county clerk who received it. Mah is a vocal critic of the Republican secretary of state. She trailed her GOP challenger from Tuesday's election by 27 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast. She said she wants to help voters correct problems affecting their ballots, so their votes will count. In the memo, Kobach's office said releasing voter names would violate federal law.


Democrats' Fates Differ in Comeback Bids for Kansas House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former Democratic leader will return to the Kansas House following this week's election, but former State Treasurer Dennis McKinney has failed in his attempt at a legislative comeback. Former House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer defeated GOP freshman Representative Benny Boman in the 95th District in Wichita. Sawyer served 12 years in the House, leaving in 1998 to run for unsuccessfully for governor. He later was Kansas Democratic Party chairman, won back his House seat in 2002 and stepped down again in 2009 for a Kansas Parole Board seat. McKinney served 16 years in the House and was minority leader before being appointed treasurer in 2008. The Greensburg Democrat lost the treasurer's race in 2010. He was defeated in the 117th District this year by Republican John Ewy of Jetmore.

Western Kansas Now Sending Only 1 Democratic Representative to Statehouse

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Democrat state representatives are becoming an endangered species in western Kansas. Tuesday's elections left Democratic State Representative Jan Pauls of Hutchinson as the only member of her party from the western half of the state. Three incumbent Democrats from the region lost: Senator Allen Schmidt of Hays, and Representatives Eber Phelps of Hays, and Vincent Wetta of Wellington. Democrats will have about the same number of seats at the statehouse next year as in the previous session: eight in the Senate and 32 to 34 seats in the House, depending on the outcome of some close races that have yet to be called. The Hutchinson News reports western Kansas Democrats believe their numbers have declined largely because the focus in elections has shifted from local to national issues.

Kobach Wants to Make Pictures of Ballot Illegal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he wants to make it illegal for people to take photographs of completed election ballots. The Wichita Eagle reports current state law prohibits election workers from taking pictures of ballots but there is no law concerning individuals shooting photos of their own ballots. The practice has become more widespread because people want to post their ballots on social media sites. Kobach says social media and photo-altering software have made the issue much more complicated but he plans to introduce legislation in the next session to make such pictures illegal. He says in the past, people took pictures of their ballots to prove how they voted in return for payment or favors.

Democrats Worried About Topeka Polling Problems

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Democrats in the Topeka area say they're worried that dozens of people may have been directed to the wrong polling places in this week's elections. Attorney Richard Benson says Shawnee County's Democratic Party received multiple complaints of problems. Benson filed an Election Day lawsuit on behalf of a poll watcher and a voter who initially was turned away from voting at the Topeka Bible Church in central Topeka. But County Counselor Rich Eckert said Democrats have identified only one affected voter. In an affidavit, the voter said the election office told her by mail that the church was her polling place. But Benson said she was not listed in the poll book. Court records show that District Judge Larry Hendricks had a hearing but declined to intervene because the voter ultimately cast a provisional ballot.


Missing ESU Student Found in Germany

EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) _ A missing Kansas college student has been found in Germany nearly three weeks after traveling there without telling her friends or family. Twenty-year-old Emilee Irsik, a junior at Emporia State University, was with German authorities when she called her family around noon Thursday. Her mother, Sherry Irsik, of La Grange, North Carolina, told The Associated Press she is "thrilled beyond measure'' and looking forward to being reunited with her daughter. But she said she didn't speak long with her daughter and had "zero information'' about what happened. Emilee Irsik had been studying German at Emporia State. She left October 19 during the school's fall break and landed the next day in Hamburg. Her roommates notified the school when Irsik didn't show up for classes October 22. According to the Wichita Eagle, authorities were tipped off by a British Airways employee who reported that Irsik turned up at the Hamburg airport on Thursday afternoon to purchase a ticket home. Irsik reportedly told police that she had been traveling around Germany and did not realize she had been reported missing. 


Topeka Man Convicted in Attack at TV Station

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 49-year-old Topeka man has been convicted of attacking employees at a TV station after he was told it would not report a story he wanted covered. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Ray Anthony Miles was found guilty Thursday of multiple charges stemming from the May 23 incident at the offices of WIBW-TV. Miles went to the station to request coverage of a problem he was having with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He left the building, but then forced his way into the locked lobby and shoved the news director before being subdued by other employees. The employees were punched, kicked and stabbed before they managed to take a knife away from their attacker. Miles was arrested the same day and has remained in jail since then.

KCK Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal M-80 Sales

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas man has pleaded guilty to selling M-80s and other explosives without a federal license. The U.S. Attorney's office says 41-year-old Joseph Quinn admitted in his plea Tuesday that he sold illegal, homemade explosive devices to a Fourth of July fireworks stand in Kansas City, Kansas. A city fire inspector received a tip on July 4, 2010, that a fireworks stand was selling illegal fireworks. He found a sack of 70 M-80s at the stand, whose operator said he bought them from someone he knew as "Pyro Jo." Investigators found Quinn at a building in Kansas City where they recovered more than 4,700 M-80s and various other explosive devices. As part of a plea deal, Quinn will be sentenced to a year of home confinement.


Missouri Water Company Cited in Wake of Worker's Death

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri utility has been cited for two willful safety violations after a Kansas man was killed earlier this year by a chain saw that kicked back and cut him. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday announced the citation and proposed penalties of $140,000 against Missouri-American Water Company. The case involves the May 16 death of 40-year-old Robert W. Clark of Baxter Springs, who was helping reroute underground water lines as part of Joplin's rebuilding effort. OSHA cited Missouri-American for failing to provide support in accordance with manufacturers' instructions and lack of training on pipe-cutting operations. Mid-American president Frank Kartmann says the company does not agree with the contents of the citation and plans to meet with OSHA to discuss the matter.

Hawker Beechcraft to Close 3 Facilities, Cut Jobs

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita-based airplane maker Hawker Beechcraft says it's closing facilities in three states and laying off more workers in Kansas. The company said Wednesday that 240 employees will lose their jobs with the closing of Hawker Beechcraft Services facilities in Little Rock, Arkansas; Mesa, Arizona; and San Antonio, Texas. It also plans to cut a total of 170 jobs at its Wichita headquarters and at its completion center in Little Rock. Hawker Beechcraft says the moves are in line with plans to emerge from bankruptcy as a standalone company. It says the closures and layoffs will help with its plan to focus on turboprop, piston and military aircraft and on its parts and maintenance business. Affected employees in Wichita will be notified Friday. The others will be told next week.

Kansas GOP Right Wing Foresees Less Spending, More Tax Cuts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republicans anticipate trimming the Kansas budget and even considering additional tax cuts after cementing large majorities in the Legislature. The GOP appeared poised to maintain its majorities of 32-8 in the Senate and 92-33 in the House following Tuesday's election. Some races remained very close Wednesday. Conservatives within the Republican Party are now on track to hold a supermajority of 27 in the 40-member Senate. They also could have as many as 75 seats in the 125-member House. Massive income tax cuts enacted this year have left the state facing a budget gap, and Governor Sam Brownback would need the newly constituted Legislature's approval for spending cuts or other measures. Conservatives see the problem as manageable and are still in favor of eliminating state income taxes altogether.

Kansas Officials Ponder Next Health Care Step

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are pondering their next steps for implementation of the federal health care law now that the presidential election has been decided and deadlines are looming. The state has until November 16th to tell the federal government whether it wants to be a partner in creating an online health insurance marketplace. Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's office is preparing a partnership application and will seek grant money to implement the exchange. Praeger, a moderate Republican, must get a letter of support for the state's partnership from Governor Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican who is opposed to the federal health care law. A Brownback spokeswoman said Wednesday the two officials are expected to meet later this week. Brownback delayed decisions on implementing the health care law until after Tuesday's election.

Kansas Approves Measure for Lowering Boat Taxes

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have approved a change in the state constitution aimed at lowering property taxes on boats. The measure was supported by about 54 percent of voters in Tuesday's election. It allows the Legislature to set up a new system for taxing watercraft. Kansas boat owners now pay property taxes on 30 percent of their boats' appraised value, tied largely to levies that are set by cities, counties and school districts. Critics of the current system say the Kansas taxes are significantly higher than those in other states. The measure was backed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The agency hoped it would encourage more residents to purchase and register boats in the state, offsetting any potential loss in tax revenues.


KHP, Wildlife Agency to Conduct Checkpoint

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two state agencies will conduct a joint checkpoint in north-central Kansas to see if drivers are obeying state laws and if they're transporting wildlife. The stops will be made Sunday afternoon in Ottawa County, north of Salina, by the Highway Patrol and the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Highway Patrol troopers will make the initial stops, checking all drivers for valid licenses. If a driver or passenger possesses wildlife such as waterfowl or game animals, the vehicle will be sent to a second checkpoint. A natural resources officer will then check for hunting licenses and permits and count the number of birds or animals. The two agencies say delays for both checks are expected to be minimal.

Advisory Group to Focus on Kansas Aviation Industry

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Governor's Council of Economic Advisors will be in Wichita next week for a conference on the global competiveness of the state's aviation industry. Governor Sam Brownback will join other state officials and council members for Tuesday's meeting at Spirit AeroSystems for the event. Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State University's Center for Economic and Business, will discuss competition in the aerospace industry. He will be joined by John Tomblin, the executive director of the National Institute for Aviation Research who will address that entity's role and industry collaboration. Also expected to speak is Tony Kinkel, president of the Wichita Area Technical College, on the role of the National Center for Aviation Training.

Child Rapist from Manhattan Sentenced to 2 Life Terms in Prison

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — A Manhattan man convicted of 21 sex offenses against two minor girls has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Forty-three-year-old John Goodpasture Jr. was sentenced Wednesday to two consecutive life terms. He was convicted in August of rape, aggravated indecent liberties and criminal sodomy against two girls, ages 10- and 13. The crimes happened in 2010 and 2011. KMAN reports Goodpasture told the court he plans to appeal his sentence.

Convicted Murderer Told to Pay Crime Victim Fund

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man in prison for killing his wife and trying to kill his sister-in-law has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars in legal bills when he is released. On Wednesday, a Saline County judge ruled Michael Paulson will be responsible for more than $8,200 to the Board of Indigent Defense Services, more than $18,000 to the Crime Victim Fund and nearly $9,000 for court costs. Paulson was convicted in July of second-degree murder in the 2010 stabbing death of Valerie Paulson. He also was convicted of attempted second-degree murder for injuring his sister-in-law, Jessie Putman. The restitution includes money for Putman's medical expenses. The Salina Journal reports Paulson's attorney plans to appeal the restitution order. Paulson is also appealing his conviction.

Dodge City Finally Will Have Fireworks Display

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — It's a few months late, but Dodge City residents will finally be able to shoot off fireworks this Sunday. The city banned fireworks in July because of dry conditions from the summer drought. City officials say residents can use any fireworks they've been saving since July on Sunday, which is Veterans Day. Fireworks will be allowed within city limits from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. City spokeswoman Jane Longmeyer says the city is strongly encouraging people to use the fireworks they might have been storing for five months. The Dodge City Daily Globe reports police will still confiscate fireworks from anyone not using them properly. Fireworks will not be allowed on public property but the city will have its yearly fireworks show Sunday evening.

Drought Tracker: Dryness Worsens in Kansas and Oklahoma

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The nation's worst drought in decades has worsened in parts of the nation's midsection, further frustrating ranchers and growers of winter wheat in Kansas and Oklahoma. The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update posted Thursday shows that 60 percent of the land in the lower 48 states is experiencing some degree of drought as of Tuesday. That's down less than a percentage point from the previous week. But the nation's worst drought in decades intensified in Kansas, the top U.S. producer of winter wheat. Thursday's update shows that the expanse of that state in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — rose roughly 6 percentage points, to 83.8 percent. Nearly 76 percent of Oklahoma is mired in the two highest forms of drought, up 8 percentage points.


KC District to Provide Help for Needy Families

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Needy families will be getting some help from the Kansas City school district. For the second year, the district is putting on an event called "A Day of Giving." It's planned for November 17 in the Anderson Gymnasium. Once signed in, families will have a chance to get free coats, winter gear, school uniforms, hygiene products, school supplies and books. The items will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The district doesn't require identification or proof that families live in the district or send their children to district schools. Last year, more than 1,400 people received free items.


KC's Union Station Seeks Tax Credits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials with Kansas City's Union Station are seeking $5 million in state tax credits for improvements at the historic depot. The Kansas City Star reports that Union Station officials unveiled the station's plans, which include improving Science City, on Wednesday. Union Station Chief Executive George Guastello and lawyer Jerry Riffel told a City Council committee they hoped to accomplish the improvements with the help of $5 million in Missouri tax credits. Those credits will be used to leverage $10.7 million in private investment. They say Union Station has already received pledges from potential donors if the state tax credits are approved. The program allows contributors to deduct 50 percent of their donations to approved projects from their state taxes. The city has to approve the tax credit application.

91-Year-Old Navajo Code Talker to Receive KU Degree

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 91-year-old man who was a Navajo Code Talker in World War II will receive his degree next week. Chester Nez will receive his University of Kansas degree on Monday. He was one of the original 29 Code Talkers in an all-Navajo Marine platoon who created a secret code based on their language used by troops in World War II. Nez had to leave the university in 1952 after three years because his GI Bill funds ran out. No one at the time knew he was a Code Talker. The Lawrence Journal-World reports Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback will attend the ceremony. Nez also will receive gifts from the city of Lawrence, the KU Alumni Association, Haskell Indian Nations University and the Native Faculty and Staff Council at Kansas.


Number 3-Ranked K-State Football Team Boasts 111-0 Edge in Points Off Turnovers

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — In the one statistical category all coaches respect, the Kansas State University football team has an undeniable advantage. The Wildcats' four turnovers through their first eight games are the fewest among any team in the Bowl Championship Series and the 24 that they've forced are fifth-most in the country. The result is a plus-20 turnover margin that's more than triple that of any other Big 12 team. The result? Kansas State has outscored opponents 111-0 off turnovers. Yes, that's not a misprint — 111-0 in points off turnovers. Kansas State (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) will try to build on that edge when the Wildcats play TCU on Saturday.

Weis Looks to Showcase KU Football Seniors Down Stretch

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Facing the prospect of a 1-11 record in his first year at the University of Kansas, Charlie Weis is now forced to balance respect for the seniors he inherited from former coaches against a desire to start rebuilding his program. In three weeks, the seniors, who have endured three coaching changes and have only 11 victories in four years, will finish their tumultuous careers. Weis is making a final push for the seniors by showing them off to NFL scouts, but he also has turned to younger players and given them the chance to fight for a starting spot as he searches for at least one more victory. He has dedicated Sundays to this purpose, releasing the seniors early and giving the underclassmen a chance to shine.


McLemore, Traylor Ready to Go for Number 7-Ranked Jayhawks 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor have been waiting for this moment for more than a year. The talented freshmen were deemed partial qualifiers by the NCAA last season, so they were forced to watch as the University of Kansas men's basketball team made another remarkable run to the Final Four. They weren't allowed to practice with the Jayhawks until the second semester and couldn't play in games. Now, they are finally getting their chance. The seventh-ranked Jayhawks open the regular season Friday night against Southeast Missouri, the only tuneup they have before a high-profile game against Michigan State next week. Already, coach Bill Self has said McLemore and Traylor will be vital to any success Kansas has this season.

Houston Advances Past Sporting KC to MLS Eastern Conference Finals

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Houston Dynamo held off Sporting Kansas City after Seth Sinovic scored his first career goal in the second half, falling 1-0 on Wednesday night but advancing to the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-1 aggregate-goal result. The Dynamo won the opening leg Sunday behind goals from Adam Moffat and Will Bruin, and then did enough on defense — just barely — to advance to its second straight conference title game. Houston defeated Sporting KC last year to reach the MLS Cup finals. The Dynamo will open the conference finals on the road against D.C. United or the New York Red Bells in another two-game, aggregate goal series scheduled to begin Sunday.


Democrats Hope to Rescue Kansas House Incumbent

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka-area Democrats plan to go door to door to find individual voters whose ballots face review in hopes of saving a Kansas House member who is narrowly losing her race for re-election. Four-term incumbent Ann Mah, of Topeka, was still not conceding defeat Thursday to Republican challenger Ken Corbet in the 54th House District. Unofficial results had Corbet leading by 27 votes out of nearly 11,000 cast. The count does not include provisional ballots, which are cast when election workers aren't sure someone is eligible to vote at a particular polling place. The Shawnee County Commission will decide whether to count such ballots. Mah and other Democrats say they want to identify the voters and then contact them to document their eligibility to cast their ballots.

**More developments in this story have been occurring throughout the day. Please scroll to the top of these regional headlines for the latest information. 

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